With an array of impressive Star Trek shows available on Paramount+, Thursdays have indeed felt emptier since the conclusion of Strange New Worlds Season 2. The beloved crew of the USS Cerritos steps in to fill this gap, having endeared themselves to fans over the past three years, with fans already getting a taste of their adventures during a crossover with the USS Enterprise in Strange New Worlds. Now, with the imminent arrival of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4, the series aims to secure its position among the iconic Star Trek crews. Early readings suggest that the crown jewel of the California class is more than up to this challenge.
Upon our first introduction to the USS Cerritos crew, the spotlight primarily centered on Beta Shift, consisting of Ensigns Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), Bradward Boimler (Jack Quaid), Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), and D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells). This group of Starfleet ensigns, who would be little more than red shirts in other Treks, endeavored to prove themselves beyond the clichéd fate of their predecessors. Over the course of the series, viewers have become acquainted with the entire crew, including the bridge officers who share the same optimism and aspiration as Beta Shift in showcasing their capabilities. The last time we saw the USS Cerritos crew, they had validated their worth to all of Starfleet by proving that the California-class starships were more than mere cleanup crews. Amidst the fun Easter eggs and references that the show is known for, Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 sets out to establish its own narrative legacy.
A distinguishing factor of Star Trek: Lower Decks, apart from recent counterparts, is its accessibility. One can engage with the adventures of the Cerritos crew without needing prior familiarity with its members. With its original characters, Lower Decks Season 4 places less emphasis on connecting with the broader Star Trek universe through cameos of fan favorites. This detachment also means that familiarity with Star Trek lore isn’t mandatory to understand these characters, as they resemble people we know or even are ourselves.
For those more familiar with the crew, the standout element of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 is the creative pairing and occasional trios of characters. Even after four seasons, it remains intriguing and satisfying to witness the crew’s continued exploration of new dynamics. While traditional favorite pairings might receive less screen time, the introduction of fresh dynamics breathes new life into the show. Notably, T’Lyn (Gabrielle Ruiz), the Vulcan ensign who appeared sporadically throughout the series, becomes a more prominent character, embarking on her own journey of self-discovery alongside Beta Shift.
In contrast to prior seasons, where nostalgia seemed to dominate, season 4 places a greater emphasis on establishing the current crew’s identity. The crew of Beta Shift strives to ascend the Starfleet ranks while navigating the complexities of friendship and duty. Each episode imparts a lesson, whether it’s about self-care or tackling imposter syndrome, rendering the series relatable and more digestible than some of Star Trek’s weightier themes. To convey these lessons, the adventures of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 continue the California-class starship’s role as a support crew, revisiting past missions of prominent Star Trek crews or serving as escorts for dignitaries.
Similar to the USS Cerritos’ earned reputation, Beta Shift’s crew has garnered respect within the fleet. The Lower Decks Season 4 trailer hints at looming promotions for this unconventional group, which has repeatedly proven its mettle. As in previous seasons, the series underscores the significance of teamwork and self-worth. The theme of maintaining one’s identity amid progress resonates throughout the season. Often, the season encourages viewers to reflect on their career journeys, reminding them of their value and rightful place.
Throughout the season, viewers encounter familiar escapades from the likes of Voyager, but these events are imbued with new perspectives and twists. This new angle, more often than not, results in outcomes that do justice to the original material. Even while revisiting scenarios from earlier in the series, the show imbues these episodes with fresh perspectives, showcasing the crew’s growth over time. The measured nostalgia allows episodes to flow more smoothly, creating space for genuine character moments rather than just setting up punchlines. This approach maintains intrigue about the crew’s excitement as devoted Starfleet enthusiasts, inspiring viewers to revisit or experience these moments themselves.
Given Lower Decks’ inherently comedic nature, one might overlook its contribution to expanding Star Trek lore. Throughout their adventures, the crew encounters various species, as expected. However, Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 delves deeper into the cultures of previously enigmatic societies like the Orion. This adds to the series’ ongoing mission of establishing its distinct legacy within the broader Star Trek universe. Even when familiar cultures are explored, the show demonstrates a nuanced understanding and care for these worlds, seamlessly weaving humor throughout. At times, jokes may initially seem to undermine a character’s development or achievements from their originating Star Trek series, but by the episode’s end, such concerns are dispelled, and the writing’s credibility becomes evident from start to finish.
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 unfolds with the usual episodic adventures while weaving a storyline involving an enigmatic threat menacing multiple galactic species, with the Federation seemingly in its crosshairs. All of this builds to our cherished characters united and showcasing their exceptional abilities to face the next threat. In the end, there is not much more you can ask for from a series that set out to pay homage to generations of Star Trek. Now, though, Lower Decks and the crew of the USS Cerittos claim its rightful place as a premier crew, demonstrating that leaving a lasting impact doesn’t require serving on the flagship of the Federation. With steadfast companions by your side, it’s entirely attainable, even for those in the lower decks.
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 premieres on Paramount+ on September 7, 2023 with new episodes every Thursday.
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 unfolds with the usual episodic adventures while weaving a storyline involving an enigmatic threat menacing multiple galactic species, with the Federation seemingly in its crosshairs.